George Kahumoku Jr.
Also see George's website at www.kahumoku.com
He's been called Hawai`i's Renaissance man: George Kahumoku Jr., master slack key guitar player, songwriter, world-wide performer, high school teacher, former principal, sculptor, story-teller and a farmer so in tune with his islands that he has won several state and national awards for his work with the land. George began playing music professionally at the age of 13 with the legendary singer/songwriter Kui Lee. After graduating from Kamehameha Schools in 1969, George earned a BFA degree at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California. Following a stint working on the Alaska pipeline, he returned to Hawai`i and plunged into farming and community efforts such as working with children in native language skills. He currently lives on Maui where he teaches the Special Motivational Program at Lahainaluna High School.
George's music and voice have been described as "earthy and organic--one with the `aina (the land)." His love and respect for Hawai`i and the planet Earth are embedded in his music, which he likes to think of as nature songs; songs of love, hope, desire, and lament. George has deep memories of his childhood on the Big Island with his large musical `ohana (family) where he was exposed daily to traditional Hawaiian music and ki ho`alu (slack key guitar). "When I'm playing a solo instrumental piece," George says, "especially on the 12 string guitar, or when I'm playing together with other players, I often imagine in my musical mind's eye all of the people in my family, grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins, who have had a great influence on my music--that they're all playing or singing along with me. I hope that my grandchildren will one day come to understand and play this music."
In his long musical career, George has produced and contributed to many albums including three with his brother Moses, as The Kahumoku Brothers, in the 1980s. So rooted in music, family and the soul of the Islands, it is no surprise that in 1979 he received the highest honor in Hawai`i's recording industry, a Na Hoku Hanohano Award, for his work on Auntie Edith Kanaka`ole's album HI`IPOI I KA `AINA ALOHA (CHERISH THE BELOVED LAND) (Hula 568). In 2000, he won the Na Hoku Hanohano Award again, with fellow slack-key artist Daniel Ho, for their album HYMNS OF HAWAI`I (Aire Music 88922).
George has also played slack key guitar in several documentary films about the music and cultural richness of the Hawaiian Islands, including the soundtrack for the David Kalama/Meleanna Meyer film `ONIPA`A (Kalama Productions), which chronicles the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, and focuses on issues that have affected Native Hawaiians since the overthrow of Hawai`i's last monarch, Queen Lili`uokalani, in 1893. Playing several of Lili`uokalani's songs in the film inspired George to release his first solo album, E LILI`U (Kealia Farms 1008), a heartfelt tribute to the Queen and her music.
In 1997, George released his first album on Dancing Cat Records, the title of which describes how, throughout his life of gathering expertise in many fields, George has always remained so "drenched by music." In addition to George's beautiful and spirited solo slack key guitar playing, DRENCHED BY MUSIC (Dancing Cat 38038) also featured duets with steel guitar wizard Bob Brozman and with `ukulele player and vocalist Diana Aki.
George's second and latest Dancing Cat release, HAWAIIAN LOVE SONGS (NA MELE HO`ONIPONIPO HAWAI`I), co-produced with George Winston, includes both evocative originals and soulful interpretations of beautiful Hawaiian classics. Bob and Diana again join George for duets--Bob on the pungent Moloka`i Slide and Diana on the love song Keiki Mahine. Renowned blues harmonica player Norton Buffalo is a new addition to George's guests with his soulful appearance on Lei Pikake.
George shares his music in many ways when he is not in the studio. A seasoned traveler, George has performed to audiences all over the world, including such dignitaries as the Queen of England and the Premier of China. He says that while walking out on the stage he knows he doesn't have long with those people out there in the audience, so he relaxes, has a great time, and gives them everything he can. During his annual concert tours on the mainland, George holds slack key workshops as frequently as possible. In the summer of 2000 he also held the third annual slack key workshop at The Mauian Hotel on Maui, with other Dancing Cat greats Ozzie Kotani, Led Kaapana and Keola Beamer. This workshop is one of the great musical experiences in the Islands today, and the result of George's belief in sharing and celebrating the music of Hawai`i.
At a concert or a gig, or when playing a CD, listeners are often unexpectedly moved by George's unpretentious manner, deep musicality and rich mixture of life experiences.
Click on album title for more information, sound clips and online ordering.
With the Kahumoku Brothers:
With Aunty Edith Kanaka'ole and the group Na 'Oiwi:
- SWEET AND SASSY (Kealia Farms 1010)
- MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY (Kahumoku Brothers 1003)
- KAI MALINO - THE PEACEFUL SEA (Hula Records 577)
- MOSES KAHUMOKU - HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY (MK-1)
- HI-IPOI I KA 'AINA - CHERISH THE BELOVED LAND (Hula Records 568)
- HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY GUITAR MASTERS COLLECTION VOL. 2 (Dancing Cat 38044) - various artists, includes George's rendition of Holy! Holy! Holy!
- HAWAIIAN SLACK KEY CHRISTMAS (Dancing Cat 38044) - various artists, includes George's rendition of Holy! Holy! Holy!
- KI HO'ALU CHRISTMAS (Dancing Cat 38037) - various artists, contains one song by George, Little Drummer Boy
- NATIONAL PARK SERIES SOUNDS OF HAWAI'I (Orangetree Productions 31127) - various artists, features George's performance of Mele O Kohala (Song of the Whales)
- ONIPA'A - a David Kalama, Mele Anna Meyer film of the 1993 reenactment of the overthrow of Queen Lili'uokalani. Funded by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA)
- KI HO'ALU - THAT'S SLACK KEY GUITAR (Studio on the Mountain) - documentary features performances by Ray & Elodia Kane, Sonny Chillingworth, Leonard Kwan, Kwan, Ledward Kaapana, George Kuo, George Kahumoku, Jr. & Diana Aki, Haunani Apoliona, and others. Available on video only.
- THE HAWAIIAN WAY (Hawaii Sons) - documentary features slack key guitarists Ledward Kaapana, George Kuo, Ray Kane, George Kahumoku, Jr., Moses Kahumoku, Eddie Kamae and the Sons of Hawai'i, Manu Kahaialii, Malaki Kanahele, and vintage footage of Gabby Pahinui and Fred Punahoa. Available on video only.
- TROUBLED PARADISE (Flying Fish Records90607) - various artists, soundtrack to the documentary film features five songs performed by George Kahumoku, Jr.: Kealia, Ho'oipo Kamaha'o, Kai Malino, Kona Inn and Na 'Ono O Ka 'Aina